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Resumption of the Inquest.


Resumption of the Inquest. For the seventh time the jury empannelled to inves- tigate the circumstances of the murder of the late Mr. Thomas Briggs assembled on Monday in the Town- hall, Church-street, Hackney. The excitement in the Boiirfe and in the neighbourhood of the Town-hall was, it may safely be sai-3, unprecedented in Hackney. From before six o'clock in the morning groups of per- sons, notwithstanding the dense and raw fog which prevailed, had taken up positions in Church-street in expectation of the arrival of the prisoner Muller. As the time fixed for the resumption of the inquiry drew on, the crowd increased in density, and every effort was used to obtain admission to the Town-hall, but without avail, as owing to the comparatively limited area of the hall, admittance was regulated by tickets. Nevertheless the crush inside the court was very great. Several hundreds of persons managed to obtain stand- ing room in a space apparently not large enough to accommodate half the number. The witnesses ex- amined on previous occasions in themselves formed a goodly number—thirty-two and there was also in attendance several witnesses who had not hitherto given their evidence. Several of the sons of the deoeasoi gentleman were present in court. The police arrangements for the preservation of order amongst the crowds in Church-street and the neighbourhood were perfect. A strong body of the N division were on the ground, under the orders of Superintendent Mott and Inspectors Stacey, Byford, and By water. At a little before eight o'clock the prisoner, Francis Muller, was brought to the Town Hall in a prison van by Inspectors Tanner and Williamson. His arrival was the signal for a loud- shout from the crowds that occupied every available spot of ground near the Tows. Hali. Even the tombstones in Hackney Churchyard were made available as stand-points. His entrance into the court was the occasion of the greatest excite- ment amongst the spectators, but his slight and almost boyish appearance occasioned something like a murmur of disappointment. He appeared pale but in good health. At eight o'clock precisely Mr. John Humphreys, the coroner, took his seat. Superintendent Howie, of the K division, and. In- spectors Tanner and Kerressey had the management, of the case for the public authorities Mr. J. Beard was present to defend the prisoner. Mr. Moojen, solicitor, appeared for the fa-nolyof the deceased. Muller was accommodated with a seat next the re- porters' table. He immediately entered into an earnest consultation with Mr. Beard, his legal adviser,: hi-a pale face reddening and brightening up as he whispered to that gentlemen. Hj was perfectly self-possessed in his manner, and seemed to witness the scene around him-with a calm interest; he certainly manifested less- anxiety than most of the audience present in the court, whose eagerness .to gratify their curiosity was something singular to witness. The Coroner said that if there continued to be the noise and merriment then prevailing, he should clear the court instantly. George Blyth, liJ, Park-terrace, Old Ford-road, was then He said he had a lodger of the same of Muller. He saw Mfiller on the 9th July. He walked out with him on the Sunday. Muller then wore the same clothes as before. Witness did not notice his appearance as anything peculiar. He identified Muller as his former lodger. Mr. Beard: Midler's dress on the Sunday was the same that he had worn on the Saturday ? Witness Yes. Mrs. Blyth, re-called, also identified Muller. She washed six new shirts for him before he sailed in the Victoria. Mrs. Matthews recalled. Coroner Do you lecognise any one present as the. person referred to in your evidence ? Witness Yes, sir. (The witness pointed out Muller as the person in question.) Jonathan Matthews, recalled, said I identify that person (pointing to Muller) as the person mentioned in my evi- dence. John Heffa also identified Muller. Sergeant Clarke recalled. Coroner: Is the person now here in custody the person you described as Franz Muller in your evidence ? Witness: Yes, sir. Inspector Tanner recalled, Coroner: Inspector Tanner, do you say the person you bring here in your custody is Franz Muller of whom you spoke in your evidence ? Witness Yes, sir, the same. Mr. J. Death also identified Muller aa the person alluded to in his evidence. Mr. J. Briggs, recalled, said that his father usually wore his necktie in a bow. On the morning of the murder he wore a black hatband on his hat. Coroner: So far as your belief goes, do you believe the hat produced to be the hat of your father ? Witness: I do, sir. Coroner: That is all I ask you, Mr. Brigg-s. Mr. Beard did not put any questions to the witness. The name of Mrs. Reptch was called several times, but she did not answer. Some delay was occasioned by the absence of this witness, as she could depose to the fact that Muller had just before his departure from England been in possession of a hatband, which he endeavoured to put on the hat, which she considered to be new-a fact which she remarked to him at the time. As she did not appear, The Coroner here said that the evidence now taken was all that he wanted to take. He should now ask the jury to consider their verdict; but first he should read over the depositions of the witnesses examined on previous occa- sions, as certain points might possibly have escaped their recollection. The Coroner then read over seriatim, the depositions in question. The prisoner, Muller, appeared to listen to them with interest, but without any manifestation of emotion whatever. He sat sideways on his seat, and falling into a listening- attitude he flxedhis eyes on the coroner, and with his head thrown a little on one side he heard with sustained attention, but without moving a muscle, all the terrible details of the state in which the unfortunate deceased was found dying between the metals of the railway, and the state of blood and confusion in which the railway carriage was found. On the reading of Mr. Lee's evidence, Mr. Beard recalled the witness, and said: You have de- scribed two individuals whom you saw with Mr. Briggs in the carriage at Bow. Do you recognise the prisoner as one of them ? Witness Can't swear, sir. Mr. Beard: Direct your attention particularly to the pri- soner. Witness: I can't say. Mr. Beard You can't say ? Witness: I can't swear whether it is or whether it is not. A Juror: He has not the hat on. Coroner: A juror says that the hat found in the railway carriage is not on him. Let it be tried on. (The hat sworn by Matthews to be the hat ot Muller was here produced.) Mr. Beard said to the prisoner: This is the hat they say is yours; put it on. I wish (said Mr. Beard) that this lining which is loose was fastened, for I want to try it on Matthews. Muller then without hesitation and without bravado put on the hat. Mr. Lee looked at him without making any sign of re- cognition. Somejarors (to Muller): Stand up, stand up. Muller stood up. Mr. Lee said: I cannot swear whether he is the man. Muller then sat down. Mr. Beard (to Mr. Lee) You saw two persons with Mr. Brig-ffS in the railway carriage. Describe thetn. Mr. Lee: One was a tall man with dark whiskers; the other was a light man with carroty hair and whiskers. Mr. Beard That was the man who sat opposite Mr. Briggs ? Witness: Yes. Mr. Beard: What was his appearance otherwise ? Witness: He was a stout-built man. Mr. Beard And the other man, the one that sat next to Mr. 'Brig-gs, had dark and large whiskers ? Mr. Lee: I think he had black whiskers, but I could not swear whether he had whiskers or had not whiskers. This statement was received by the audience with cries,of "Oh!" and some derision. Order was, however, at once restored by the officers of the court. A J'jiror: Do you think he had whiskers-black whiskers ? Coroner He has already said that he cannot swear to the point.. Mr. Beard (to Mr. Lee): You do not recognise the pri- soner as one of the men P Witness: No; I can't say. The cross-examination of this witness produced something like a sensation in the court-the confronting of Muller, with the hat upon him, with the witness who deposed to seeing Mr. Briggs within three and a half minutes of the moment of his being Rung out of the carriage, in the com- pany of the parties who were, he inferred, doubtless his murderess, being an incident of quite dramatic interest. The failure of Mr. Lee to identify Muller, and his somewhat unsatisfactory description of the man whom he stated that hesaw with Mr. Briggs, created a general impression that it was, to say the least, possible that Mr. Lee had been under 'some mistake throughout as to the interim at Bow on the night of the 9th July. Mrs. Reptch was then cahed, and she answered to her 112me. Being ill she was only asked to identity Muller as the person referred to in her evidence as to the affair of the hatband, &c. She was suffered to depart the moment that she identified the prisoner. The Coroner then concluded the reading of the very voluminous depositions, when Muller had another, consulta- tion with Mr. Beard. The Coroner then said to the prisoner: What is your name ? The prisoner stood up, and said in a low voice, Franz Muller—Francis Muller. Coroner: What is your age? Prisoner: Four-and-twenty. Coroner Now, I wish to caution you. You are at liberty io say any thing you please or to call any witnesses in your defence; but anything you do say will be taken and may be used in evidence against you. Do you wish to say anything ? Ask Mr. Beard. Prisoner: I do not wish to say anything now. The Coroner said that, in considering their verdict, the jury should dismiss from their minds a great num- ber of circumstances that.interfered with the clearness of the leading: facts. The deceased gentleman left his friends in Peckham on the evening of the 9th July in good health. He was seen to go to the Fenchurch- street. station, where he took a first-class ticket on the North London Railway for Hackney, and he took his departure by the ten o'clock train. According to the evidence of Mr. Lee, that gentleman saw him sitting in a compartment of a first-class carriage at the Bow Station, and two other persons were also in the carriage but Mr. Lee also stated there was quite time sufficient for these men, or either of them, to have left the carriage without his seeing them before the train left the Bow Station. Well, in a short time after that Mr. Briggs was found on the line between Bow and Hackney-wick with certain injuries on his head, from which he died in twenty-four hours. (The learned Coroner produced a skull brought by one of the medical gentlemen, and pointed out the peculiar nature of the fractures and other iniuries which had been inflicted on Mr. Briggs,. the principal of which was a hole behind the temple.) The carriage in which the deceased had been last seen was found covered with blood inside. There was also blood on the step outside the carriage. How came that' blood there? There were two fractures of the skull. One was on the vertex, apparently from a blow; it was a starred fracture, just such a fracture as a sheet of plate-glass would exhibit after receiving a blow from a stone. That injury the medical men considered to have been occasioned by a blow from a weapon tha other fracture might have been caused by the fall from the carriage door on to the step. It should be remarked that when the deceased, who was uncon- scious to all appearance, was being searched by thepo- be remarked that when the deceased, who was uncon- scious to all appearance, was being searched by thepo- liee he took his hands from his head, where he doubt. less suffered intense pain, and instinctively put them to his pockets as if to protect his property. He (the learned Coroner) once had a case before him of a man who was killed by injuries received in a prize fight. His skull was fractured, and he lay quite un- conscious. No shouting could arouse him, but the moment "Time!" was called he sparred up directly. That would show that the last circumstance had riiade a powerful impression on the mind of a person struck down by such injuries, and possess an influence over them when nothing else oould. It might be taken altogether as proved that Mr. Briggs had been de- prived of the property of which he was admitted^ robbed during an attack and struggle in the railway carriage; that the death of the deceased arose from malice there could be no doubt, and the malice was murder or nothing. The question then arose as to who was the murderer or murderers. The murder was committed after ten o'clock on the Saturday night, and at ten o'clock on the Monday morning— almost directly the shops were opened—Franz Muller was found dealing with a portion of the property of which deceased had been robbed. A hat found in the railway carriage in which Mr. Briggs had been at- tacked was sworn to be his. Mr. Briggs's hat was taken by the murderer. Several witnesses distinctly swear that on the ensuing day Muller had a new hat-a hat different from the one he hid worn up to the time of the murderer Muller going to America; Arrested before landing, the rest of Mr. Briggs's property and a hat, which proves, to say the least, the strongest similarity to that of Mr. Briggs, but cut down and altered, is found in his box along with Mr. Briggs's watch. It was for him to explain how he came with Mr. Briggs's property. It was said that Muller went to America in accordance with a long preconceived plan. There was no doubt of that part, but there appeared also to be no doubt, that he did not possess the means to carry that plan into execution. Tkere was, therefore, a strong induce- ment or motive for the committing of an attack that would furnish him with the means of carrying out his project. Even as it was, after pawning the chain he got for that of Mr. Briggs, and selling the duplicate, he had hardly sufficient money to pay his passage out. If the jury considered that all the circumstances led to the conclusion that Muller was the man who mur- dered Mr. Briggs, or that he was one of the mur- derers-for there was no reason to conclude that two. 1 persons might not have been engaged in. the perpetra- tion of the crime—they would return a verdict of wilful murder against Muller. They would consider, after a. careful survey of all the facts, whether they would accompany their verdict against Muller with one of wilful murder against some person or persons unknown. One of the witnesses said that he saw two persons in the carriage with Mr. Briggs at Bow, but ,j that they might have got out before the train left the platform. It was also possible that they, remained in, or that some other persons might have got in after they left. There was no impossibility involved in the supposition that the murder had been committed by one man. The jury should now retire and consider their verdict.

The Verdict.

Examination at Bow-street.




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